COMMERCE CITY, Colo. --- The Colorado Rapids scored three goals in the first 30 minutes of their opening game as defending MLS Cup champions on Saturday night, and spoiled the MLS debut of the expansion Portland Timbers with a 3-1 win at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Jeff Larentowicz, Omar Cummings and Jamie Smith each scored for the Rapids, who controlled much of the tempo of the match before Kenny Cooper scored the Timbers’ first-ever MLS goal on a skipping free kick in the 80th minute.
But Cooper’s historic goal certainly wasn’t enough to seriously threaten the Rapids, who got on the board with a scrappy goal from Larentowicz in the 8th minute.
Cummings set up the goal when he refused to give up on a ball close to the corner flag, brought it in dangerously and crossed the ball hard into the penalty area. The ball landed perfectly for Larentowicz, who capped a difficult week with a sweet close-range strike into an almost open goal.
The midfielder was involved in a midweek car accident that saw him in a neck brace, and was also wearing a cast to protect a fractured thumb sustained in a recent preseason win over Vancouver.
Cummings made the most of another Rapids scoring chance in the 29th minute after forward Conor Caseysent him through with a perfect header. Portland goalkeeper Adin Brown denied Cummings’s first breakaway chance, but the rebound skipped back to the Jamaican international, who neatly finished it into an open net for a 2-0 Colorado lead.
Smith punctuated the surge just one minute later on a gorgeous right-footed rip from 25 yards out.
Cooper and the Timbers rebounded well in the second half, highlighted by a sequence of spectacular saves from Brown and the monumental goal from Cooper, the Timbers’ prized signing of a busy offseason.
Cooper smoked a low shot on a free kick from roughly 35 yards that skipped past the Colorado wall, through the box and to the far post past goalkeeper Matt Pickens.
The goal was the first in MLS for Cooper since June 20, 2009 with FC Dallas.
PORTLAND TIMBERS (0-1-0) VS COLORADO RAPIDS (1-0-0)
March 19, 2011 -- Dick's Sporting Goods Park
(Official boxscore confirmed by MLS on March 23, 2011)
COL--Larentowicz 1 (unassisted) 8
COL--Cummings 1 (Conor Casey 1) 29
COL--Smith 1 (unassisted) 30
POR--Cooper 1 (unassisted) 80
PORTLAND TIMBERS--Adin Brown, Steve Purdy, Rodney Wallace (Kalif Alhassan 66), Kevin Goldthwaite (David Horst 46), Eric Brunner, Jeremy Hall, Jack Jewsbury, Peter Lowry (Adam Moffat 46), Kenny Cooper, Ryan Pore, Jorge Perlaza.
TOTAL SHOTS: 5 (Cooper 2);SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Cooper 1);FOULS: 7 (7 tied with 1);OFFSIDE: 4;CORNER KICKS: 1;SAVES: Brown 5;CAUTIONS: None;EJECTIONS: None.
COLORADO RAPIDS--Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura, Anthony Wallace, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Brian Mullan (Wells Thompson 88), Jamie Smith, Pablo Mastroeni (Sanna Nyassi 77), Jeff Larentowicz, Conor Casey (Quincy Amarikwa 61), Omar Cummings.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Cummings 4);SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (3 tied with 2);FOULS: 15 (Casey 4);OFFSIDE: 1;CORNER KICKS: 7;SAVES: None;CAUTIONS: Casey 39, Mastroeni 63;EJECTIONS: None.
Referee: Ricardo Salazar; Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry, Peter Manikowski; 4th Official: Yader Reyes.